Messi may leave Barca next year
The report said Messi and his father Jorge had begun discussions over his future but that he no longer wishes to stay at Camp Nou. Messi’s latest contract was signed in 2017.Updated: Jul 03, 2020 22:52 IST
Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has called off negotiations over renewing his contract with the club and is ready to leave the Catalans when his current deal expires in 2021, according to a report by Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.
The report said Messi and his father Jorge had begun discussions over his future but that he no longer wishes to stay at Camp Nou. Messi’s latest contract was signed in 2017.
The report added that Messi is angry about leaked media reports that appeared to make him seem responsible for events at the club, such as the January sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde, and that he is frustrated about the squad’s lack of quality.
As speculation on Messi’s Barcelona future gathered pace, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane was also asked about it on Thursday after his side beat Getafe 1-0 to go four points clear of defending champions Barcelona at the top of La Liga with five matches to go.
“I don’t know what will happen but we hope not because he is in this league and we want the best in this league,” Zidane said.
The current situation has been brewing for some time. In February, Messi said he did not believe Barcelona could win the Champions League on current form.
The 33-year-old has also had disagreements with the board, reacting publicly when sporting director Eric Abidal, a former teammate, appeared to blame players for Valverde’s removal.
There are also question marks over Messi’s relationship with the coaching staff helmed by Quique Setien who replaced Valverde. Messi has been seen avoiding communication with Setien during drinks breaks at games giving rise to further speculation.
Barcelona’s presidential elections are due in 2021.Current president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said he will not seek a second term and among the frontrunners is Victor Font, who wants to appoint Messi’s former teammate Xavi Hernandez as coach.
Not the first time
This isn’t the first time that questions have been raised about Messi’s future at Barcelona, the club he joined when was 13 and for whom his first competitive game came four years later, in 2004. In November 2016, it was reported in Spain that Messi had decided to turn down an extension of his contract beyond the summer of 2018. He went on to sign a fresh deal till 2021.
Almost two years before that, Messi was briefly linked with to a move to Chelsea. Messi’s public praise for then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had also fanned the fire. “Mourinho is a great manager. Whether you like him or not as a person, you can’t deny he’s a great coach,” Messi told reporters during the Ballon d’Or ceremony in January, 2015.
However, on all previous occasions, Messi signed a new contract with Barcelona. Will things be different this time? It could depend on the result of the 2021 presidential election.
President election key
The election is scheduled in summer. It will coincide with the period around which Messi’s current contract expires. A win for Font, who has in the past backed Messi during his friction with the Bartomeu administration, is likely to help resolve the situation for both parties. Font has in the past said that Barcelona should make plans for Messi to transition from the pitch to another role at the club.
However, it is not clear whether the Argentine great would wait that long to decide on his future. Given Messi’s stature at the club, it is equally unlikely that Barcelona would want to drag on this reported dispute. Losing him will be disastrous for the club and Bartomeu and would draw the ire of fans.